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Cakewalk releases SONAR 8.5 Producer & SONAR 8.5 Studio

Cakewalk has announced the release of version 8.5 of both SONAR Producer and SONAR Studio. SONAR 8.5 includes enhanced beat creation and arrangement tools, a new drum instrument loaded with kits and patterns, an enhanced audio timing toolset, new multi-stage effect plug-ins for drums and percussion sounds and vocal tracks, engine optimizations and stability improvements, and many additional workflow and technological advances, notably Windows 7 compatibility.

New features and workflow enhancements:

  • Matrix View: simple and flexible cell-based, non-linear audio and MIDI arranging with live triggering capability.
  • Step Sequencer 2.0: powerful step sequencing.
  • Integrated Arpeggiator: trigger Arpeggiations on MIDI or instrument tracks with in-depth control over all arp parameters. Includes hundreds of presets.
  • Session Drummer 3: latest version of Cakewalk's virtual instrument for easy and fast creation of drum tracks with a new UI, kits and patterns from top sound designers and drummers.
  • AudioSnap 2.0: updated audio quantizing and time shifting technology with new look and refinements to all the core controls, significantly improving workflow, plus improved offline rendering.
  • Media Browser: the new hub for content access within SONAR; supports multiple formats to preview and import all your loops, grooves, and MIDI patterns; features presets to quickly grab content from your favorite locations.
  • PX-64 Percussion Strip: seven-stage processor designed specifically for use with drums and percussion.
  • VX-64 Vocal Strip: seven-stage processor optimized for shaping and sculpting vocal tracks.
  • Windows 7 Support: tested, ready, and recommended for use.
  • Engine optimizations and stability improvements for recording audio, and while looping.
  • "Hotswap" audio and MIDI devices, including control surfaces, without restarting SONAR.
  • VST plug-in compatibility improvements.
  • Native REX loop support featured in Track View, Media Browser, and Matrix View.
  • BitBridge XR: run 32-bit plug-ins in 64-bit environments, with memory access now extended up to 128 GB RAM.
  • And much more.

Matrix View
With simple and flexible cell-based, non-linear audio and MIDI arranging and triggering, the Matrix offers new ways to experiment with arrangements or creating remixes of existing songs, or quickly laying down beds of tracks for new songs in any genre. The Matrix is also a perfect tool for beat-juggling and triggering one-shots and backing tracks live.

The Matrix view is easy to use, simply drag-and-drop any type of audio or MIDI clip/file/pattern from the Track view, Media Browser or desktop into an empty cell, then click individual cells or columns of cells to turn on and off playback. The Matrix provides a comfortable, trigger-anything looping environment using four trigger modes, multiple play styles, and advanced MIDI controls. Click the Capture button to simultaneously record your Matrix performance as an arrangement of audio and MIDI tracks in SONAR's Track View.


  • Cell-based view offering non-linear arrangement and live triggering.
  • Sync to SONAR Transport / Track View.
  • One-step capture of Matrix "performances" to Track View for more precise editing and mixing.
  • Drag-drop any audio (multiple files at once) and MIDI content from the Track View or the Media Browser into the Matrix.
  • Four triggering modes with measure, beat, 1/8, 1/16, 1/32, 1/64 note resolutions.
  • Play Styles: Global and Per-Cell modes for looping and latching (set cells to trigger from the beginning, or offset from SONAR Now Time).
  • Flexible Routing: each row routes to a track, multiple rows can be routed to the same track, per row mute and exclusive solo.
  • Completely MIDI controllable.

Step Sequencer 2.0
SONAR's Step Sequencer view is known for being advanced and comprehensive. Step Sequencer 2.0 takes this power to a new level with increased depth of control over your sequences. Step Sequencer 2.0 was built with 3 goals in mind: to simplify the interface for an elegant and musical workflow, to design a set of useful and powerful per-lane controls, and to provide finer control over per-step adjustments.

New in Step Sequencer 2.0:

  • Enhanced SONAR integration: now every virtual instrument loaded in SONAR includes a Step Sequencer button to easily create patterns and sequences to work with that instrument.
  • Add Flam to any step by simply double clicking it (then use the flam time knob to adjust timing).
  • Easily load/save patterns from the Options button or drag and drop patterns from the Media Browser.
  • New Auto-populate feature provides shortcuts to fill lanes every 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 steps.
  • Redesigned Controller Pane for per row articulations and controls, including Volume, Pan, Pitch Bend, Mod Wheel, Portamento.
  • Per step parameter controls for Velocity, Time Offset, Probability, Lane-based MIDI articulations, Filter Cut and Filter Res.
  • Parameter values are now displayed as bars underneath steps in the controller pane, making editing per step parameters such as Velocity, Step Offset, Probability, and other MIDI articulations quick and easy.
  • Exclusive Per Step Probability provides control over the probability of how often a step will be triggered. Use it to create automatic variations (make some steps only play occasionally) to keep repetitive patterns sounding fresh.
  • All this is combined with the functionality from Step Sequencer 1.0 including: Step Recording, the Velocity Multiplier, Fit to Quarters capabilities, and more.

Session Drummer 3
Session Drummer has been a mainstay in SONAR for easy and fast creation of realistic sounding drum tracks. Now, Session Drummer 3 hits the stage with an all new look, sporting a sleek photorealistic 3D drum kit, along with routing improvements, plus 12 new kits and over 700 new patterns for additional high quality drums sounds and grooves.


  • Photorealistic drum kit page to load kits, programs, patterns, and tweak mappings.
  • Dedicated Mixer page for fine tuning kits (12 channels each) with control over volume, pan, width, and tuning controls.
  • Mix and match kit components: all kit pieces are broken down into individual components for flexibility in creating your drum sounds. Ships with over 200 different drum sounds across 20+ kits.
  • Drag-and-drop drum components: build kits by dragging any WAV or OGG file from the desktop onto a pad.
  • Comprehensive collection of presets and MIDI-based loop files to provide a creative jump-start for your drum tracks.
  • Flexible MIDI pattern playback.
  • 12 pads/12 outputs.


  • 10 high-quality kits from Sonic Reality ready to play in any track, along with 1 coupon for a free download of one Ocean Way Drums kit.
  • 2 polished kits from Steven Slate Drums, fine tuned and tweaked.
  • Genre-defining original samples of the classic Roland TR-707, TR-727, TR-808, and TR-909 drum synthesizers, along with kits from Sequential Circuits Drumtraks and Linn Electronics LinnDrum.
  • 2 Organic kits from Smart Loops.
  • Over 700 new MIDI patterns from Steven Slate Drums, Groove Monkee, and Smart Loops.
  • Over 2.5 GB of drum sample content in all.

AudioSnap 2.0
The original AudioSnap provided powerful, non-destructive, multi-track control over audio timing. AudioSnap 2.0 provides a new look and refinements to its core controls, significantly improving workflow. New features include a simplified UI, dedicated transient tool, proportional stretching mode, and multi-track audio stretch and quantization that maintains accurate phase relationships. Proportional stretching can be used both to correct unwanted timing fluctuations and provide gradual timing adjustments across several transients. In addition, rendered audio fidelity is greatly improved using the new Radius Mix Advance Mode.

New in AudioSnap 2:

  • AudioSnap Palette presents all commands and options in one easy-to-read toolbar.
  • Simplified transient marker appearance reduces visual clutter and enhances focus on relevant information.
  • Transient Tool allows for dragging or snapping of transients without having to worry about inadvertently moving an audio clip; lasso selection allows for grouped transient edits.
  • The Merge and Lock transients command is great for editing, stretching, and quantizing multi-track drums while keeping audio in phase.
  • Grouped proportional stretching allows for the easy correction of fluctuations in the tempo of a performance without losing feel.
  • Tab to Transients available from the Track and Piano Roll Views, follows Audio, Groove, Step Sequencer, and MIDI Groove Clips.
  • Tempo detection, tempo mapping, and tempo syncing audio. New tempo detection algorithm auto-detects the tempo of all audio in SONAR and the Clip Tempo Map feature allows for easy manual tempo mapping of non-rhythmic, non-constant, or atypical audio.
  • Enhanced fidelity with Radius Mix Advanced Mode: new Radius Mix settings improve "pitch coherence," which preserves the naturalness of timbre in human speech, vocals, reed and brass instruments.

VX-64 Vocal Strip
VX-64 is a seven-stage processor designed for sculpting "incredible sounding" vocal tracks. Each of the VX-64's stages have been fine-tuned to be vocal-specific, taking the work out of loading an entire chain of vocal processors. The VX-64 features a new Cakewalk technology that employs phase-coherent, multi-band saturation to avoid unwanted distortion; unique filtering to avoid artifacts at extreme high and low frequencies; and an auto-leveling circuit that prevents the tube saturation from sounding too harsh when high gain transients are processed by it. VX-64 also employs a new de-essing algorithm designed with Cakewalk's LP-64 linear phase effect filtering technology to remove sibilance without creating any frequency smearing. VX-64 includes 64 presets and click & drag reordering of processing stage routing, making it fast and easy to get high quality vocals in seconds.

Processing stages include:

  • Input: simulates a tube pre amp.
  • De-esser: removes sibilance without smearing.
  • Compander: vocal compressor with expander to reduce unwanted background noise.
  • Tube EQ: for adding character, ranging from subtle warmth to intense heat.
  • Doubler: advanced doubling effect providing the quality of actual re-tracking.
  • Delay: preset delays useful for vocal tracks with tempo sync.
  • Output: provide saturation control with a built in soft-clipping filter.

PX-64 Percussion Strip
PX-64 is a seven-stage processor designed specifically for shaping drum and percussion sounds. Like the VX-64 Vocal Strip, the PX-64 Percussion Strip employs Cakewalk's exclusive tube saturation algorithms with unique filtering and auto-leveling circuitry technologies. Combining transient shaping, compression, expansion, equalization, delay, and tube saturation in one convenient plug-in, the PX-64 Percussion Strip includes 70 presets along with click & drag reordering of processing stage routing, making it fast and easy to enhance any drum or percussion track in seconds.

Processing stages include:

  • Input: the Input/Gain stage simulates a tube pre amp.
  • Transient Shaper: shape the audio signal's attack phase independently of the decay/sustain phase.
  • Compressor: balance the overall signal level and limit the dynamic range.
  • Expander: control dynamic range by reducing levels that fall beneath a specified threshold.
  • Contour EQ: 4-band EQ optimized for drums and percussion.
  • Delay: adds space and rhythm to the signal with option to tempo sync to host.
  • Output: output gain stage and specialized saturation control with a built in soft-clipping filter.

Integrated Arpeggiator
Each MIDI and Instrument track in SONAR now has a built-in Arpeggiator which allows you to turn even the simplest chord progression into exciting new sound textures. The SONAR Arpeggiator is a perfect tool for adding variety to any Instrument or MIDI track that repeats a number of times in a song, or for creating complimentary parts using other instrument sounds that follow your chord progression. The SONAR Arpeggiator includes hundreds of presets, patterns, and classic algorithms, and provides not only powerful controls over the rate, octave range, latch, swing, flam, velocity, duration, and pitch offset of the arpeggiation, but also control over mix, channel input, and shape.

Media Browser
SONAR's Loop Explorer View has been updated and expanded. In its new form, Media Browser is now SONAR's hub for content. Audio Groove Clips, Step Sequencer Patterns, REX Loops and Project5 MIDI PTN files can all be previewed in Media Browser and easily dragged into any track. As well, video files can be viewed in Media Browser and easily dragged into a Video Thumbnail Track. Users' content folders can be stored and recalled as handy Media Browser presets. SONAR 8.5 ships with out-of-the-box presets that point directly to Beatscape REX Loops, Session Drummer 3 MIDI Drum Loops, Step Sequencer Patterns, RXP REX Loops, PTN MIDI Patterns, and MIDI Groove Clips.

Engine Optimizations, Technology Innovations, and Additional Workflow Enhancements

  • Engine Optimizations: Audio interfaces, MIDI interfaces and control surfaces can now be disconnected and reconnected again or "hotswapped" while SONAR is running without the need to restart SONAR. This is particularly useful for plugging in a new MIDI controller while inspired to lay down a new part, or in the event an audio interface needs to be power-cycled. SONAR 8.5 also includes optimizations and stability improvements for recording audio, and while looping.
  • Open Support: Cakewalk has been, and will continue to be, a proponent of open standards in software and hardware. SONAR 8.5 brings a variety of compatibility improvements for VST plug-ins, as well as for Cakewalk's BitBridge technology, which allows for access to classic 32-bit "x86" VST plug-ins in a 64-bit "x64" environment. SONAR Producer customers can take advantage of the new BitBridge XR, which automatically provides up to 32 BitBridge servers, each capable of using up to 4GB of RAM, for a total of 128GB of RAM access from 32-bit plug-ins. SONAR also now provides native REX loop support, via the Track View, updated Media Browser, and new Matrix View.
  • Windows 7 Ready: SONAR 8.5 is ready for Windows 7 right from the get-go. Cakewalk has been testing SONAR from early Windows 7 Betas right through to the latest Release Candidates, and is pleased to recommend Windows 7 as a platform for SONAR 8.5. Additionally, SONAR 8.5 was evaluated at an independent Microsoft application compatibility lab and officially passed the rigorous Win7 compatibility testing.
  • Freeze and Archive buttons now conveniently located on each track.
  • Updated Insert Send Assistant, with matching track gain/pan while creating sends.
  • Solo Button on all effects plug-in windows to quickly solo and focus on the track being processed.
  • New Track View grid lines options to present grid lines behind or in front of clips.
  • New option to automatically lock scrolling during playback when initiating an edit.
  • The Now Time cursor can be dragged to a new position during playback.
  • New FX: SONAR 8.5 now includes the Project5 effect suite, including the Alias Factor Bit Decimator, Classic Phaser (Tempo-Sync), Compressor/Gate, HF Exciter, Mod Filter (Tempo-Sync), Chorus/Flanger (Tempo-Sync), Para-Q, StudioVerb II, and Tempo Delay.
  • DC Offset meter added to the Cakewalk Analyst plug-in.
  • Installation has been simplified with an easy one-click install option that accepts all default settings and locations and installs the entire SONAR application, as well as plug-ins and content data.

Pricing and Availability

SONAR 8.5 Producer has a street price of $499, SONAR 8.5 Studio $299, and are available at select music and sound retailers. And for the first time ever, registered SONAR 8 Producer customers can download the SONAR 8.5 Producer upgrade for $99 and SONAR 8 Studio customers can download the SONAR 8.5 Studio upgrade for $79 directly from Cakewalk.com. All SONAR V-Studio 700 customers and those SONAR customers who purchased SONAR 8 after July 1st are eligible for a free download of the 8.5 upgrade. An upgrade DVD is also available for an additional nominal fee for those customers with slower connection speeds or who prefer physical media. Other upgrade paths are available, visit Cakewalk.com for details.

International pricing

SONAR 8.5 Producer and Studio software is available in English, German, French, Spanish and Italian; English, German, and French boxed versions come with a printed multi-language User's Guide; Spanish and Italian boxed versions come with a PDF format of the User's Guide. SONAR 8.5 is available through Roland and Edirol distribution partners.

Europe's recommended retail price for SONAR 8.5 Producer and SONAR 8.5 Studio are €499 and €299 RRP inc VAT respectively; U.K. pricing is £435 and £265 RRP inc VAT respectively, and are available at select music and sound retailers around the world. Registered SONAR 8 Producer customers can download the SONAR 8.5 Producer upgrade for £89, €99 and SONAR 8 Studio customers can download the SONAR 8.5 Studio upgrade for £69, €79, directly from Cakewalk.com. Registered SONAR 8 Producer customers can purchase the boxed version of the SONAR 8.5 Producer upgrade for £109 / €119 and SONAR 8 Studio customers can purchase the boxed version of the SONAR 8.5 Studio upgrade for £89 / €99 directly from Cakewalk.com or a Roland and Edirol distribution partner. All SONAR V-Studio 700 customers and those SONAR customers who purchased or upgraded to SONAR 8 after July 1st (worldwide excluding Japan) are eligible for a free download of the 8.5 upgrade.

Other upgrade paths are available, visit Cakewalk.com or a Roland and Edirol distribution partner for details.

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